Carbohydrates Cycling

27 04 2011

The philosophy behind carb cycling is that for 3 days you will deplete your carbohydrates by eating fibrous carbohydrates, which will allow your body to use up muscle glycogen and burn bodyfat. Then for the next 3 days, you will load your carbohydrates by eating mostly starchy carbohydrates and thus replenish your muscle glycogen. The great thing about this technique is the following:

  1. Fibrous carbs (which are mostly made of cellulose) have an atomic structure that our digestive system has difficulty breaking down. Therefore the majority of fibrous carbs we eat just pass through our digestive system. Although they aren’t digested, they do provide intestinal bulk, and they have the added benefit of not only speeding up the digestive process but they take a considerable amount of water with them.
  2. By eating fibrous carbs all though-out the day, your body realizes that it’s getting food frequently and speeds up your metabolism. Since fibrous carbs aren’t easily digested, it requires more calories to burn them than they give up, so in effect giving you a net loss of caloric efficiency.
  3. By eating like this for 3 days and then switching to starchy carbs keeps you just shy of ketosis, and prevents your body from entering a catabolic state. Catabolism is where the body begins cannibalizing muscle tissue to get energy from the protein in the muscles.
  4. By doing cardio on the first 3 days (your fibrous carb days), you burn more bodyfat and consume more muscle glycogen. During the last 3 days (your starchy carb days), you’ll be replenishing that muscle glycogen, giving your muscles a fuller, harder look, but with less bodyfat covering them.
  5. On average, women should lean towards 125-175 grams of carbs on low days and 200-300 grams on higher days. Men, 175-225 grams on low days and 350-400 grams on high days.
  6. Pay attention to how your body is feeling. If you are lacking in energy and feeling very week, increase your starchy and fibrous carbs, but focus your starchy carbs around your workouts. But, if you have plenty of energy, but aren’t seeing any fat loss results, slowly decrease your starchy carbs.

Category

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Carb intake

Low carbs Low carbs Low carbs High carbs High carbs High carbs

Calories

50% total 50% total 50% total 100% + total 100% + total 100% + total

Training

High reps, supersets Higher reps, training Higher reps, training Off Usual-style training Usual-style training

Ketones

“trace” range

“small” range

“small-medium” range

“medium” range

“normal” range

“normal” range

Arginine?

Yes Yes Yes No No No

Fibrous or Starchy carbs?

Fibrous Fibrous Fibrous Starchy Starchy Starchy

Junk food?

No No No Tasty treat day No No

Aerobic activity?

Yes Yes Yes Optional Optional Optional
For the first 3 days, you’ll eat mostly fibrous carbohydrates, then for the next 3 days you’ll eat mostly starchy carbohydrates. These include:

Fibrous Carbohydrates

Starchy Carbohydrates

Asparagus
Green beans
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Cucumbers
Eggplants
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Green peppers
Red peppers
Spinach
Squash
Zucchini

Barley
Lima beans
Red beans
Black-eyed peas
Corn
Whole-meal flour
Lentils
Oatmeal
Pasta
Peas
Popcorn
Potatoes
Rice
Sweet potatoes
Tomatoes
Shredded Wheat
Yams

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How to Brake a Fitness Plateau

14 04 2011

Weight Training PlateauIt is easy to take your progress for granted. Steadily you have been losing weight, shedding inches, gaining muscle and then all of a sudden it just stops. This is called a plateau and occurs when your body becomes accustom to the resistance being placed upon it and no longer needs to work as hard. The body adapts very quickly and a plateau can occur in as little as four weeks if the muscles are not being constantly challenged.

1.  Interval training.  The science really supports this one.  Intervals done right are very painful (you’re training at 90% or more of your maximum ability) but they are short.  As with most exercise, more is not better (hgh, human growth hormone, works while you rest, remember?) but do try working in a couple of interval workouts a week.  20 minutes max is all you need.  And don’t tack them on to another workout.   Seriously.  Because then you won’t be able to give those intervals your all.  Bored of treadmill sprints (or they give you shin splints)? Try bike sprints.  Or rowing sprints.  Or, heaven help you because you will barf, swimming sprints.

2.  Mess around with your macronutrient ratios.  Recent research has shown that eating fat and protein for breakfast can give you a metabolic boost that will help you burn fat throughout the day and help you stay full longer.  I’m not saying cut out healthy carbs all together, just don’t fear the fat!  And don’t mess around with that Smart Balance stuff – go for the coconut oil, olive oil, heavy cream and whole eggs.

3.  Try a new type of exercise.  Always do step class?  Try martial arts.  Die-hard runner?  Try boot camp.  There are more ways to exercise than even I can blog about (not that I’m not trying, mind you) and change is good.  It shocks your body and will make you sore in places you didn’t know you could be sore!

4. Cut back on your cardio.  For many of us, the instinct to just do more – more classes, more miles, more laps – is strong.  If some is good, more is better right?  Not so with exercise.  And you know that I speak from experience here.  Too much cardio actually teaches your body to store fat, can increase your hunger or just convince you that since you ran 10 miles you can eat whatever you want, goldanggit.  Many of the leanest people I know do minimal cardio and focus mainly on the weights.  I’m not telling you not to do cardio, just to resist the impulse to do more of it.  If you want to run a marathon to prove to yourself you can do it or because you love to run or because racing gives you a thrill or even just because you think the finisher’s tee is adorable then you should totally do it!  But if you are running a marathon because you think it will make you lose 10 pounds, rethink that.

5.  Lift heavy stuff.  If you haven’t started lifting weights, do it.  Not just because adding muscle will increase your resting metabolism (not by a ton, but every little bit helps) or because muscle takes up less space than fat but because it is good for you in so many ways.  Increased bone mass.  Stronger heart.  Fewer varicose veins (unless you squat too heavy and then you can get hemorrhoids but that’s another post). Increased confidence.  And if you already lift weights, change it up: try lifting heavy with few reps, or light with many reps.  Try doing supersets.  Lots and lots of different programs out there.

6.  Eat more calories.  This may sound counterintuitive but I think by now we’ve all heard about how our metabolisms will head off into the Siberia of starvation mode if it thinks it’s not being sufficiently fed.  Cutting back on your calories only helps you lose weight to a point.  You may actually need to eat a bit more.  How to tell?  Do you feel tired, lethargic and/or more cold than usual?  Have you lost your sex drive?  Losing your hair?  Brittle or strangely ridged nails?

7.  Get your metabolism tested.  If you have health insurance and this isn’t too costly, this can be a good thing to do if nothing else is working.  Get your thyroid tested (especially if you are pregnant, recently were pregnant, are lactating or are female and over 50).  Get your vitamin and hormone levels checked.  It can’t hurt and who knows – it might turn up a health issue you need to know about!





Super Sets: for Muscle Growth!

13 04 2011

When you set up a strength training program, one of the first things you’ll decide is how to structure your workouts. There are any number of training methods to choose from depending on what you’re after. Most of us start out with straight set training: doing one exercise for several repetitions, resting and then doing another set of the same exercise. This is a great way to get started with strength training but there are other options.

Supersetting is just one method of training that can save time, add intensity and help you bust through weight loss plateaus.

It’s a good idea to change your strength workout every 4-6 weeks to avoid plateaus, and supersets offer a great way to completely change what you’re doing.

Superset Basics
Supersetting is an advanced training method in which you do two exercises, one after the other, with no rest in between. The exercises can be for the same muscle group or two different muscle groups, depending on your goals. The idea is to do one exercise and, instead of resting and doing another set, doing a different exercise and alternating those exercises for your desired number of sets The Benefits of Supersets

Supersets help you:

  • Save time. Going from one exercise to another without rest will make your workouts shorter and more efficient.
  • Increase intensity. If you choose supersets that work the same muscle, but with different exercises, you’re adding to the intensity of your workout.
  • Overload your muscles. By working the same muscle with one exercise right after another, you can overload your muscles without using heavy weights. This is great if you don’t have a spotter or don’t want to lift very heavy weights.
  • Make things interesting. If you’ve been doing straight sets forever, supersetting can make weight training more interesting and definitely more challenging.
  • Easily set up a workout. All you do is pick two exercises, either for the same muscle or by using some of the other ideas listed below, do them one after the other. Rest and repeat!
  • Incorporate more variety into your workouts. You don’t have to do exercises for the same muscle group. You can do opposing muscle groups or even two complete different parts of the body.

 Types of Supersets

You may be surprised at how many options you have when it comes to supersetting.

Some of the basic supersetting training methods include:

  • Pre-Exhaustion Supersets: This involves two exercises for the same muscle group. The first exercise is an isolation move, which targets one muscle group, and the second is a compound movement, which targets multiple muscles. Example: Leg extensions, which target the quads, followed by squats. The quads are tired, but the other muscles used in squats (glutes, hamstrings and inner thighs) are fresh.
  • Post-Exhaustion Supersets: This is the opposite of pre-exhaustion. You start with the compound movement and follow that with the isolation exercise. Example: Bench press followed by dumbbell flies.
  • Compound Superset. This is a tough way of training since you’re putting together two compound exercises, requiring more energy and strength. Remember, compound exercises are those that work several muscle groups at a time. Example: Squats followed by lunges.
  • Isolation Supersets. In this type of training, combine two isolation exercises. Example: Dumbbells flies followed by a cable crossover.
  • Opposing Muscle Groups. When you do two exercises that target opposing muscle groups, one muscle gets to rest while the opposite muscle works. You can pair back and chest, biceps and triceps, hamstrings and quadriceps, etc. Example: Biceps curls followed by triceps kickbacks.
  • Staggered Supersets: In staggering, you do an exercise for a different muscle between sets. For example, during a straight set of chest presses, you could throw in a set of calf raises or crunches while you rest your chest muscles. This saves time, allowing you to work smaller muscle groups while the bigger ones rest.
 




Taro: Potato Alike Root

13 04 2011

What is Taro?

Taro is the root of the taro plant, which is grown in semi-tropical and tropical climates all over the world. Taro root is inedible raw and must be cooked thoroughly to leach out the calcium oxalate (associated with gout and kidney stones), preferably with a pinch of baking soda. Taro leaves should also be cooked before eating. Taro root is used in curries, prepared in similar ways to potatoes, cooked with lentils, used in baking, and even used in dessert recipes. Taro chips, also known as vegetable chips, are available in many health food stores. Taro has a mild, nutty flavor.

The Health Benefits of Taro

Taro root is often used in a similar fashion to a potato, but in fact has better nutritional qualities than a potato. It has almost three times the dietary fiber, which is important for proper digestive health and regularity. Fiber can also fill you up and make you feel less hungry with fewer calories. Taro root has a low Glycemic Index, as opposed to potato which has a high Glycemic Index. A low GI means that taro effects blood sugar levels slowly, without the peaks and crashes of a high GI, which lead to increased hunger later on. Eating a diet of low GI foods can also help prevent diabetes.

Taro is nutritious, and is an excellent source of potassium, which is an essential mineral for many bodily functions. Taro also contains some calcium, vitamin C, vitamin E and B vitamins, as well as magnesium, manganese and copper. Taro leaves contain good amounts of vitamins A and C, fiber and a relatively high amount of protein.





Drop Sets : Muscle Mass and Strength

30 03 2011

In weight training language drop sets is a technique for continuing an exercise with a lighter weight once muscle failure has been achieved at a heavier weight. It is just as effective for both genders.

How to do drop sets or extended sets to build more muscle:

  • You start off with a certain amount of weight and let’s say for example you start off with 200 pounds in the bench press and…
  • Let’s say the most reps you can do with 200 pounds on the bench press before your muscles get tired is 5 reps but instead of stopping at 5 reps…
  • You would DROP or lower the weight down to 180 pounds and then do as many reps as you could with 180 pounds and you’ll probably end up doing 5-to-10 more reps with 180 pounds and once you’ve done as many reps as you can with 180 pounds…
  • You would drop the weight again (maybe down to 160 pounds) and do as many reps as you can with 160 pounds so basically…

A drop set helps you build more muscle  while getting stronger. Making you do more reps in a set – drop sets are so intense!

You should only do 1-to-2 drop sets at the end of your workouts so for example…

  • Let’s say you do a bench press workout where you bench press 200 pounds for 5 sets of 5 reps then…
  • Only on your 5th set is where you would do the drop set of something like…
    • Bench pressing 200 pounds for only 5 times and then you would drop the weight and…
    • You would bench press 180 pounds for 5-to-10 times and then you would drop the weight again and…
    • You would probably bench press 160 pounds about 10-to-15 times and…

What to do :

  1. The goal of a drop set is to fatigue the muscle to the fullest extent, so the first thing you are going to do is decide what weight to start with. For example, if you normally do bicep dumbbell curls with 35-lb. weights, I suggest your first set start at 40 lbs. instead. WITHOUT ANY REST BETWEEN SETS.
  2. Set up your weights in a manner that is convenient for you to use one right after the other without any rest (or as little as possible) when going from one weight level to another. Only “drop” by 5 lbs. between sets.
  3. Perform 6 to 8 curls at the highest weight, then drop to the next weight and do the same, and finish with lightest weight (you may be very surprised how “heavy” this light weight may be during drop sets!). DO NOT rest between weight set changes. The goal of drop sets is fatigue. You will need to rest after you complete the full drop set.
  4. Give your 100% in each rep!

Benefits:

1. Boost intensity

The major advantage of making use of drop sets when working out is that they enable users to utilize most of their muscle fibers in a workout, thereby enhancing the workout’s intensity. Actually, performing drop sets is a great method of making your workout even more challenging. Higher workout intensity is believed to offer more muscular benefits.

2. Enhance muscle growth

Aside from an improved muscular endurance, drop sets also aid in promoting hypertrophy. The term hypertrophy refers to the process through which muscles are built, making them bigger. If your desire is to build muscles quickly, then you should consider starting to use drop sets.

3. Highly effective

Because performing weight training using drop sets involves lowering the weights once you become fatigued, it is highly effective and it also accommodates beginners. You can lower the weight with time until you become comfortable. However, experts usually recommend performing only three drop sets for more gains.

4. Workout suitability

Drop sets can be utilized when performing numerous exercises. Dumbbells and resistance machines are the most suitable when doing drop sets. This is because the weight reduction during the workout requires being achieved quickly.

The use of drop sets in weight training also has certain drawbacks apart from the many advantages. For instance, since this particular training system extends the set further than the normal termination point, muscles are overworked and this could lead to severe muscle pain.





Setting Goals

19 03 2011

Did you have one goal in mind, or multiple targets such as losing weight, getting six-pack abs by spring, packing on 20 pounds of muscle for summer beach trips, doubling your bench press in two months, and dropping your body fat to athletic proportions?
Here are nine sure-fire ways to make your dreamy fitness goal or goals come true:
 

Write down your goals
Whether you want to lose 10 or 20 pounds or make it your goal to be in the gym at least two or three days a week, list your goals on paper and elaborate a detailed plan with specific steps toward reaching them. Then, regularly refer to that paper each day. Keep copies of it in your car, on your desk at work, on the refrigerator, in your bedroom, on the bathroom mirror — anywhere that serves as a constant reminder.

Seek a workout partner
Motivation helps you stick to a program. Whether it’s lifting weights or jogging around the track, sometimes going solo won’t get you far. Arrange workout times each week with a coworker, a buddy, or your wife or girlfriend. Training together can be more encouraging than trying to meet goals alone.

Hire a personal trainer
A certified personal trainer might be the best investment and motivational tool. If that home gym you received as a holiday gift is collecting dust, a personal trainer will enable you to put it to good use. In-home personal trainers can be pricey, but they pay quick dividends in a shorter period than training alone to reach your goals.

Track your progress
Just as you wrote down your goals and strategy in the beginning, what can be more inspiring than seeing your progress in the mirror or noting your increasing bench press numbers? Record your progress on paper daily or weekly as another powerful source of motivation to keep you going.

Visualize your goals
It’s not enough to have a goal (or even several goals); you must actually visualize being leaner or more muscular. This will help you achieve both your short- and long-term goals. For example, if you are trying to add two more reps to your bench press, you must mentally prepare yourself right before you lift. Close your eyes and visualize that you will surpass the eight reps you achieved in your previous workout and eke out nine or 10 reps, so that you will be able to add weight for the next set or the next workout.

Take it slowly
You know the clich, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Even if you lose one pound in 10 days, or drop 2% body fat in six weeks, that’s progress. Don’t rush or become obsessed with reaching multiple goals, as frustration can wreck your game plan. Setting too many goals at once is unrealistic and potentially unrewarding. Opt for one goal at a time.

Be realistic
Know beforehand that there will be distractions on the road to your goals, such as work, school or family commitments that might disrupt your workout schedule. Therefore, set obtainable goals in a reasonable time period.

Be flexible
If you can’t get to the gym or do your workout one morning because of a snowstorm or a meeting at work, don’t fret. Either reschedule it for later, or do a modified 10-minute workout of upper and lower body exercises, such as pushups and squats, and a lower intensity activity such as a brisk walk around the block on your lunch hour. Don’t feel guilty or upset for not getting to the gym. You still burned some calories and promoted your heart health with the brisk walk, and those body weight pushups and squats benefited your muscles and bones!

Take a day off
You won’t go off the deep end by taking a day off from your scheduled workout. Enjoy yourself by going to a movie, reading a book, dining out, etc. It could be a welcome change to avert the monotonous routine, help you regain focus and prevent obsession, which may have turned off family and friends during the first days and weeks you began striving toward your goals.

Reach your goals: Congratulations! You dropped those 20 pounds, got the six-pack abs, doubled your bench press, or ran three miles non-stop, and achieved your goals. Now you have two choices: (1) Maintain your fitness goals or better yet, (2) Set other reasonable, reachable goals so you’re not complacent, but continually stimulated and physically active in a lifelong quest for fitness and health. The decision is yours.





The Bad Food List

22 02 2011

Bad Foods:

Deep down we already know what bad foods are.  Remember they are not your friends.  They make you unhealthy, miserable, lethargic and fat.  Bad foods can send you to an early grave.

As much as two thirds of the average persons diet consists of saturated fat, sugar and refined flours.  The calories in sugar are called ‘”empty” calories because they provide no nutrients.  They are often hidden in processed foods and snacks and YES, even in so called ‘”low fat” meals found on food shop counters.

Many people do not understand how difficult it is for a drug addict to break an addiction (i.e. cigarettes, alcohol and hard drugs).  To understand this addiction try and remove all sugar from your diet.  When you find yourself craving your favourite sweet foods… Welcome to the world of the addict.  If you can break the sugar addiction, you are well on your way to freedom and healthy living.  It is the opinion of many leading longevity doctors and nutritionists that we have become sugar addicts and once having weaned ourselves off sugar, we should never go back to even tasting it.

As if you didn’t know already, here is a list of foods to avoid:

  • All alcohol
  • Bacon
  • Bread (except dark wheat free rye bread)
  • Bagels
  • Processed meats e.g. burgers, sandwich slices, salami, sausages
  • Margarine
  • Cream cheese
  • Sweets (including marshmallows, boiled sweets, wine gums and jelly tots)
  • Cakes
  • Chocolate (less than 85% cocoa)
  • Cookies
  • Sugar filled cereals
  • Corn starch
  • Corn syrup
  • Croissants
  • Dried fruit
  • Doughnuts
  • Fruit juice
  • All fried foods
  • Flour
  • Hard cheese (except feta, parmesan and romana)
  • Heavy creams
  • Syrup
  • Hot dogs
  • Ice cream
  • Jams and jellies
  • Molasses
  • Muffins
  • Noodles
  • Pancakes
  • Pastry
  • Pies
  • Pizza
  • Pasta (White)
  • Pudding
  • White rice
  • Sherbet
  • Sodas (including diet)
  • Scones
  • ALL sugar
  • Taco’s
  • Waffles
  • All fast foods (except the healthy ones)
  • Microwave meals
  • Crisps

I think you get the idea. 

Here are a few tips when planning to eat healthily:

  1. Cut your calories before you even count them.
    You don’t have to be Einstein to know that a snickers bar contains more calories than a freshly prepared fruit salad.
  2. Go for high bulk foods.
    Foods that contain lots of water and fibre like a fresh sprout salad with avocado and squeezed lemon juice are a better choice than a calorie dense fast food burger.
  3. Choose foods that give you sustained energy back.
    A handful of seeds and fresh fruit will give your body energy without the sugar crash that a chocolate and soda will.  Also your body can identify and utilise the fresh fruit and seeds much better.
  4. Portion control.
    Make sure you do not overeat at each meal.  You should be hungry within the next two to three hours.
  5. Plan ahead.
    Prepare your meals a day in advance so that you don’t get caught out in a situation where the only choice is bad food. If you are invited to a meal that you know will be unhealthy, eat something before hand or bring your own food.  (If your host cares about you they will understand.)
  6. Drink 12 240ml glasses of water per day.
    Water keeps your body hydrated and is a natural detox. Drinking water often prevents your kidneys from holding onto the water that they have. This prevents water weight and retention. Try drinking cold water as your body uses energy to raise the temperature of the water to the body’s core temperature.  This means burning extra calories.
  7. Be positive.
    Look in the mirror each day and tell yourself that you are getting slimmer and healthier with every meal.  Be good to yourself and only give your body the very best so that it can give you its very best.  Take on each new second with a healthy view of life and a winning attitude.







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